Today’s Q & A is from my good friend, student, and customer Angela Chandler who owns and runs Lash Out Loud! I’ve known Angela for years and this morning she tagged me on Facebook and asked
Q: "We have a client in the salon getting a fill right now. Before she laid down she told her technician that her husband read an article about the dangers of lash extensions and wants her to stop getting them. She then asked if we could print off an article that she can bring home to her husband that proves they are not dangerous. He is specifically concerned about the eyelash adhesive.”
A: As someone who has made an amazing living in this industry and helped thousands upon thousands of women feel their best with lash extensions, it's important to me that the record is set straight on the top myths in our industry. These myths have been perpetuated by media, and unfortunately make many potential customers nervous. But, have no fear - I'm here to set the record straight and bust these myths wide open!
- Kristen Chenoweth’s Allergic Reaction to Eyelash Extensions (WATCH)
The morsel of truth: A very small percentage of clients can develop sensitivities to products used during the eyelash extension procedure which can cause swelling that will reside once the lashes are removed. Reactions/Irritations/Sensitivities are possible with any beauty procedure you can imagine like: manicures (nail polish), facials (natural ingredients that can cause reactions), hair treatments (perm solutions and hair colour reactions), makeup services (cosmetic ingredients you are applying to skin) etc.
The reality: Did you know allergies are most commonly caused by natural substances? Venom, Pollen, Metals, Foods, and Organic Substances. Any ingredient you put into or onto your body can cause a reaction and your body may respond to this substance as a dangerous invader reacting with effects like swelling, redness, and irritation. Sometimes with synthetic materials the body gets confused and thinks the substance is a dangerous natural substance and will defend against it.
The important thing to note is that eyelash extensions, when done properly do NOT touch the skin. And accordingly to Doug Schoon (Cosmetic Scientist), allergic reactions are very very rarely caused by vapours alone (which is what the eye area is subjected to when getting lashes applied). The culprit of allergic reactions or skin sensitivities are way more likely to be an ingredient actually touching the skin (such as: latex tape. gel pads, or cleansers during a lash application). Because the skin under our eyes is the thinnest skin on the human body it is most susceptible to become irritated.
Schoon says Irritations we see as Lash Artists are often times too quickly passed off as allergies, and could also be irritations, or possibly even infections from improper home care (read more on this below).
The formaldehyde MYTH: Formaldehyde is NOT contained in Cyanoacrylate (the main ingredient in lash adhesive). It is a dry gas so it cannot be added as an ingredient. Formaldehyde however, can be released by Lash Adhesive as a by product of product breakdown - but it would need to be MONTHS of breakdown on the natural lashes to cause any effect. Lash technicians know the maximum an extension will be on the natural lashes will be 60-75 days (the total lifespan in the growth cycle). With this said, to minimize any breakdown of lash adhesive lash technicians should be using a new bottle of adhesive every 45-60 days.
Formaldehyde is a dry gas. It has never ever been a cosmetic ingredient. It is a 100% naturally occurring substance. In fact we exhale formaldehyde. It is contained in organically grown food. Our bodies make formaldehyde and it is used to create proteins and other substances in our bodies. With this said, we can be exposed to minimal amounts as a by product of adhesive breakdown but the amount we are exposed to in a lash lounge is extremely low and Schoon says we should not be worried even as technicians working with it all day.
Is it a carcinogen? There is a science that shows that being exposed to large amounts of high concentrations of formaldehyde can cause a very very rare nasal cancer (but that is nothing to worry about as a lash technician as we work with such little amounts — if you’re a mortician though? Maybe.)
What else could be causing irritations? Stabilizers. Particularly hydroquinone or MHQ. These stabilizers slow down the cure rate of lash adhesives so they don’t instantly harden on the lash, so lash artists have a second or two to place the lash extension first. However in lash adhesive there is less than 0.01% of hydroquinone and it does not touch the skin during a lash application — and to put it into perspective hydroquinone is also used in some skin creams (for lightening purposes) that are applied topically, and also in box hair dye in concentrations up to 3%. So the risk is still extremely low that lash adhesive is going to set off a reaction.
The bottom line: There are risks with any cosmetic procedure, and lash artists are lucky to have a very very small percentage of clients become intolerant to the service. If your client is ever starting to experience any itchiness, redness, or swelling after their lash application - be very cautious proceeding. Try silicone eyepads opposed to gel, ditch the primer and opt for a simple saline prep of the lashes, and cure your client’s lashes with a LashCure mister throughout the application as well as the end. Lastly finish the appointment with having your client wash their lashes with LashPure cleanser before they leave.
Note: I learned much of this info from Doug Schoon (cosmetic scientist) at the Global Lash Summit which is put on by my lash friends Jill, Eva, and Loreta! They have dates coming up in Canada, USA, and UK and I highly recommend lash artists go and learn more about our industry! Don’t miss out, sign up here! http://www.lashsummit.com
2. Cosmopolitan Magazine (READ)
The claim: “Even the most careful technique can lead to a brittle (or sparse) natural fringe. Blame the weight of faux hairs plus heavy-duty adhesives that fuse semi-permanent extensions for a month. Every 3 applications, take a month off and use a growth serum”
The morsel of truth: Improperly applied lash extensions will cause damage, but when done properly lash extensions actually can assist natural lashes to be stronger and healthier than before.
The reality: This article really hit home for me - because I was personally contacted by Cosmo to be included as a lash expert on this article. At first when they told me they were doing a lash extension safety article I was thrilled! But they only wanted to know two things “How often should people take breaks from lashes?” and “What can you recommend to rehab the natural lashes during the break?”
I was floored. I thought “How could the beauty editors at Cosmo be so misinformed? Do they not receive the best of the best for beauty services?” Clearly not. Despite responding to them with a whack-load of research showing that properly applied lashes do not cause any damage - they wouldn’t hear it. They simply told me to align myself with their story or that I wouldn’t be included. I obviously passed up the publicity.
With daily mascara applications the routine goes as follows:
-grab a lash curler and pull, tug, and yank natural lashes upwards to get them lifted (this causes follicle stress, and can actually pluck lashes out)
-coat lashes in mascara (which often times is full of bacteria from applying to your lashes, and putting the brush back in the bottle daily for months at a time)
-wear mascara for the day (often times fiddling with them or reapplying mascara). Natural lashes are usually clumped and gathered together, caked in mascara.
-remove mascara at the end of the night (cleansing involves scrubbing the lashes harshly to get off the mascara from the day often times causing more shedding)
-OR worse: Leaving mascara on while you sleep causing the natural lashes to be clumped and caked, which can affect the growth cycle.
Now let’s compare this to properly applied eyelash extensions.
-Eyelash extensions should have one bond per natural lash which allows the natural growth and shed cycle to stay healthy and regular. -A natural lash has a lifespan (on average) of 60-75 days. Not all of your natural lashes will be at the same stage of lash growth at the time they are extended so its normal to lose 1-3 lashes per day (some days you won’t lose any, and some days you may lose up to 5). This would happen regardless of wearing eyelash extensions or not.
- Its important to note that the lash extensions (provided they are appropriate length and weight for your natural lashes) are not pulling out your natural lashes, but are instead shedding out attached to the natural lash that is in it’s growth cycle.
-Each time you lose a natural lash, it’s because a fresh lash is growing in behind it and is essentially pushing the old lash out.
When you are wearing lash extensions, there is no need to tug on them with a lash curler, or scrub the daylights out of them to get mascara off. You have curly, black, full lashes 24/7 because of the lash extensions. This is what actually makes your natural lashes become stronger and healthier with extensions vs wearing mascara. (note: it’s important to clean and brush your extensions, which we will discuss next).
When your lash provider tells you that your natural lashes are needing a “break” it is for one of these reasons:
- They are applying “cluster” lashes which are big flares of 5-7 lashes with a big knot at the bottom of them. These cannot be applied individually to each natural lash and instead are laid across multiple lashes. This interrupts the growth cycle of the natural lashes, causing follicle stress and traction alopecia.
- They are using individual lash extensions but are not isolating the natural lashes properly to get a single bond to each natural lash. Sometimes these lash extensions are called “express lashes” which are simply a “coat and drop” type of application and essentially adhere large chunks of natural lashes together, causing the issues listed above.
- They are using lash extensions which are either too long, or too thick (or both). There are SO many varieties of eyelash extensions. Sugarlash alone carries over 500 varieties of eyelash extensions: 7 different diameters (thicknesses), lengths 5mm-16mm, and 6 different curl types. Just like the hair on our heads has varieties like thin, fine, coarse, thick, straight, curly, oily, dry… so do your natural lashes! This is why each application of lashes needs to be individually assessed and applied by a service provider who is properly trained and knows the limit your natural lashes can handle. Can everyone handle Kim K’s lash look? Not if you don’t have a strong lash base. Be realistic - and if a lash provider tells you that your lashes can’t maintain a certain lash look, take their word for it. Fact: You WILL be able to find a lash provider that will give you the look you want and will not care about your lash health - but you will end up with damaged lashes. It’s always best to find a provider who holds up safety and industry standards as priority.
3. Cosmopolitan Magazine... again (READ)
The claim: "Their warning echoes a Consumer Reports story this month, which said that lash extensions can cause bacterial and fungal infections."
The morsel of truth: Lash extension wearers are more likely to develop eye infections if they don’t wash their lash extensions properly. This is because of added surface area that bacteria and debris roam on/get caught in.
The Reality: Washing your eyes and lashes is something most women are used to as part of their daily routine before eyelash extensions. Often times though, after they get eyelash extensions, clients are scared to touch their extensions as they want them to last as long as possible.
The bottom line is once you have eyelash extensions, washing your eye area is more important than ever. This not only keeps your lash extensions lasting longer by keeping natural oils off of the bonds (an enemy of eyelash adhesive), but it also ensures your eyes stay happy and healthy while you have extensions on. Once extensions are applied, bacteria has more room to breed and party on - and it’s the extension wearers responsibility to take proper care of the extensions at home on a daily basis.
Lash Extensions don’t cause bacterial infections, but improper home care does.
To wash eyelash extensions we recommend LashPure Cleanser which is developed specifically for use with lash extensions, and keeps pH balanced, bacteria levels in check, and even takes care of peskier problems like Demodex (something that most cleansers won’t handle).
I realize there are more articles out there, but I think this covers the 3 main myths that the media has been feeding potential clients and lash lovers alike. Heck, I even have Lash Artists come to me concerned if they have chosen the wrong career to get into! The Lash Industry is an amazing one – with many passionate technicians who take lash health seriously. And as with any industry, there are providers with improper training giving the industry a bad rep. If clients do their research, and find a certified Lash Artist with plenty of good reviews, an awesome portfolio, they will absolutely love their lash extensions and can enjoy them for years to come if they desire! Share this article on your lash pages, or have a copy in your lounge for when you get grilled with questions! Let's let people know lash extensions are safe!
Happy Lashing all!
Feature Image: Pinterest